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Thursday, 17 November 1960

Mr REYNOLDS (Barton) .- In the ten minutes available to me I intend to endeavour to deal with two subjectmatters - the practices of the Commonwealth Development Bank, and municipal rates as they affect pensioners. Yesterday, in a question to the Treasurer, I asked if the latest statement by the Government might mean greater hope for applicants for loans from the Development Bank. I had primary producers, in particular, in mind when I asked that question. If we got round to making some analysis of why the people of Calare decided to reject the Liberal candidate at the recent by-election in that division, and supplanted the Liberal Party there by electing an Australian Country Party candidate, we would find the reason was what has happened in regard to the availability of credit to primary producers.

I would say, without any prejudice to the views that may be held generally by the Labour Party, that the electors of Calare acted as they did because they feel that the Liberal Party is responsible for the depressed state of farm incomes and for the lack of decentralization of industry to country areas. I am not saying that my analysis of the electors' thinking is correct, but I think it is. These conditions apply particularly in the area around Dubbo, Blayney and so on where the electors are resentful of the fact that farmers and primary producers generally are unable 'to obtain credit to develop their farms. I have had cases mentioned to me of people who went to the Development Bank seeking loans to carry out pasture improvement or install irrigation services on their farms, and despite the fact that the amount of money they were seeking was infinitesimal compared with the value of the security they had to offer in land and property they were unable to get that kind of assistance from the Development Bank. Here we are asking the primary producer to boost his production and help the country out of the calamitous position in which it now is in respect of its overseas trade balances, yet the Development Bank, which was supposed to be going to do that very task-

Mr Hamilton - And so it does!

Mr REYNOLDS - The honorable member says that the bank is doing the job it was set up to do. Just look at the number of applications for assistance that are rejected.

Mr Hamilton - How many?

Mr REYNOLDS - I would say that nearly two-thirds of them are rejected. I can cite a case which is much nearer home, since a relative of mine is concerned. He was admitted to a ballot in Queensland in connexion with the sub-division into four properties of a large station. He applied to be included in the ballot, along with 500 other people, and was admitted to the ballot. Two hundred of the applications were rejected because the applicants were considered not to have the aptitude for farm life and not to have the acquaintance with the cattle industry which was regarded as desirable, because this is cattle country in western Queensland. About 300 applicants were admitted to the ballot for the four properties and this man was one of the lucky four. It looks almost certain that his luck in the ballot will not continue, because the Development Bank has rejected outright his application for assistance. It has given him nothing. It is not even pre- pared to assist in any part, but the private pastoral companies of Queensland are prepared to help him to some extent. The fact that the Development Bank will not help him puts him in the position of having to borrow from private sources.

Mr Barnes - But that is not a case for the Development Bank.

Mr REYNOLDS - The honorable member says that it is not a case for the Development Bank, yet here is a large station subdivided with the idea of enabling intensive development of the cattle industry. I wonder what kind of things the Development Bank is supposed to help with if it is not supposed to help in achieving closer settlement in Queensland and thereby developing the cattle industry. One would imagine that even if our own domestic shortage of meat in Australia did not justify the bank's help in such a case our need to build up our export income would tip the balance. But not on your life! The bank rejected the application completely. But other people have sensed the prospects available. Admittedly the man had not a lot to offer as security, but that is not supposed to be the criterion. Here is a man with aptitude and experience willing to give his services and involve himself in a venture on the land. The pastoral companies have sufficient confidence in the project and sufficient faith in the industry to help him, but not the Development Bank. To the members of the Australian Country Party who are interjecting now I say that I could appeal to their own leader. I do not want to involve him in anything, but I am also pretty sure that he does not think that the Development Bank is doing the task expected of it. T am also pretty sure that if you were honest and truthful about the matter you would also admit that the Development Bank is not doing the task that the Country Party expected of it when the legislation was passed.

Mr Hamilton - I wish to raise a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I ask that the honorable member withdraw and apologize for his remark that if I were honest and truthful I would make the admission to which he referred. I ask for this under Standing Order No. 77.

Mr REYNOLDS - I am prepared to substitute the word " frank ". I had no intention of reflecting on the honorable member's honesty. Now I turn to the second matter I want to raise, if I can have some order in the chamber.

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